A lot of love affairs start on Valentine’s Day, so did this one. February 14, 2013 I stepped into the longhouse at Hedgebrook and I was smitten. V-Day open mic night was the occasion. I remember being nervous and saying to a friend, “Yeah, but I’ll be reading my poem in front of ‘real’ writers.” Not counting myself among the ‘real’. Everyone was warm and welcoming, I was inspired.
So inspired, I went back for Spring Salon. It was here I fell in love with the land that is Hedgebrook. I envied the cooks that benefited from the well planned out and cared for garden. As we walked to the cottages for our classes, I longed for time to stroll through the woods or sit by the brook. Hedgebrook filled my senses, gave me goose bumps, and sent me into whirlwind of mushy, love poem writing.
I left that day knowing what I wanted to do with all those scraps of paper. Sue Ennis and Karen FinneyFrock laid a foundation of discovery for passion. It was time to put those bits and pieces together and ignite the spark to a fire. I left that day with a full heart. When I arrived home I promptly changed my Facebook status: Works at Writing.
Here’s where I’d like to tell you that I sat religiously every day and wrote and rewrote and wrote some more until, TA DA, a bestselling novel appeared. I’d like to, but I can’t. This love affair isn’t a summer flame that dies with autumn wind. It’s more a lifelong love/hate relationship.
Many wonderful friendships came out of that Spring Salon. It was the beginning of the formation of what has become a faithful group of writer friends. It is community. Throughout the year Hedgebrook has put out a call to volunteers for envelope stuffing parties. This may not sound exciting, but this is a chance to be in that special place. I always meet interesting people at these events. If they aren’t writers, they are people who support the dreams of others. More community.
In September I went to the open house and was honored to meet Nancy Nordhoff. Now, I have to admit, my writer’s imagination had created an image of this woman. I was ready to meet a tall, well put together woman of means, wearing a light linen suit, who hired people to do the hard stuff. Go ahead, laugh, it makes me giggle too. Meeting a delightful, down to earth woman who was in the thick of things, giving tours and having to be told to stop helping and meet the guests, was a joy. Two things stand out for me. She had a vision and she took one step at a time to turn it into reality. And she helped to pull the blackberry brush out to create this beautiful place. Lessons I have applied to my writing. I know what I want to produce, I’m taking one step at a time to get it, and I’m not afraid of the thorns that I will encounter; because I know it will be beautiful.
The transformation from puppy love to true love was complete.
Last weekend I invested in my writing and attended the Winter Salon. New friendships were formed. Lessons were learned. Stevie Kallos and Jennie Shortridge built a bridge that has taken my fledgling book to a new level.
Without exception, every person I have spoken with who has attended a Salon has had a positive experience. Love grows where it is nurtured.
There is a sense of peace that resonates at Hedgebrook. Encouraging each other to speak our words and be proud of each other for contributing our voice has enriched the soil. When the wind blows through the trees, if you listen carefully, you can hear 25 years of voices whispering, “Your voice matters, tell your story.”
Laura Tarasoff is a poet and author, learning the process, in hopes of having her first book out soon. In the meantime, she writes for local newsletters, her starter blog and is creating an app of the trails of beautiful Whidbey Island, WA. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter @LSTarasoff and at her blog www.findinghopeinthedarkness.blogspot.com
Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.